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Press Release

Justice Department Finds Nebraska School District Discriminates Against Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) in Lincoln, Nebraska, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying some deaf and hard of hearing students an equal opportunity to attend their neighborhood schools.

“Denying students with disabilities the right to attend their neighborhood school based on a blanket policy is discriminatory and runs afoul of our nation’s civil rights laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will defend children’s rights to equal educational opportunities in schools, including the right to attend school along with their siblings, friends and members of their community.”

Following a comprehensive investigation, the department found that, when LPS believes that a student needs American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, LPS requires the student to attend a cluster school serving deaf and hard of hearing students. In applying this policy, LPS does not consider the individualized needs of deaf and hard of hearing students, denies them an equal opportunity to participate in neighborhood school and high school choice programs and fails to provide effective communication to some deaf and hard of hearing students.

LPS’s reliance on the cluster school requirement has harmed students who are deaf or hard of hearing. For example, one student spends up to 90 additional minutes commuting to the cluster school each day. Another student was placed into a cluster program her senior year in high school upon temporarily losing her hearing, even though she does not understand ASL.

LPS’s cluster school requirement also harms the impacted students’ parents who incur transportation costs taking their children to the distant cluster schools. 

The department provided its findings and minimum remedial measures necessary in a letter to the school district and asks the school district to change its policies and procedures, designate an ADA coordinator, train staff and pay compensatory damages. View the letter of findings here. For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit  For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or (TTY 833-610-1264) or visit ADA complaints may be filed online at

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Updated February 14, 2024

Civil Rights
Disability Rights
Press Release Number: 24-174